13 Things You Need to Know About Thyroid Disease In Pets

A couple of years ago, our dog Hayley, who is about 10 years old went for a regular vet visit. Because she sleeps often and had gained some weight, the vet tested her for thyroid disease. It came back negative but her symptoms warranted a check. I was relieved to know it was negative.

As the mother of a daughter who diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease at age nine, we are very familiar with thyroid disease and the havoc it can wreak on a body. Yet, even though we were knowledgeable about the disease, I admit I hadn’t known how prevalent it was in both cats and dogs.

As in humans, the thyroid is the largest endocrine organ in the body and it affects the function of every organ in the body.

Here are 13 things you need to know about thyroid disease as a pet owner:

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    Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is the most common disease of canines.
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    Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone, so the dog or cat just simply does not have enough for his/her body to function well.
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    Some breeds are predisposed to the disease: miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniel, boxer, Airedale Terrier, Irish Setter, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane.
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    In dogs, symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy and mental dullness, quick weight gain, cold skin and looking for warm spots because they are cold, seeking out warmth, dry skin, fur loss, reoccurring skin infections, and seizures.
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    In cats, owners should look for weight loss, diarrhea, increased appetite, vomiting, frequently drinking water (and consequently urinating more often), agitation, and disheveled or dirty fur.
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    On the flip side, hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, is the most common endocrine disease of felines, although there is no known genetic predisposition.
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    The median age of diagnosis in cats is 13.
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    Similar to the symptoms of hypothyroidism in cats, felines with hyperthyroidism also often exhibit increased appetite, weight loss, unkempt appearance, diarrhea, and increased drinking and urination.
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    However, also look out for rapid breathing or even difficulty breathing, heart murmur, rapid heart rate, hyperactivity, and thickening of the nails.
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    In dogs, the symptoms are similar, but also look out for poor appetite, loss of appetite, depression, and weakness.
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    Hyperthyroidism is much easier to identify in dogs; in cats, a diagnosis may be difficult to pin down because cats hide the symptoms better, or even deal with the discomfort and pain more discreetly.
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    Regular vet visits, particularly in older pets is vital in identifying and diagnosing thyroid condition.
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    Treatment ranges from nutritional therapy and daily, oral medication to radiation treatment and possibly surgery.

Images: iStock

Sources: PetMD The Citizen

Follow Danielle on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest (where she maintains an ‘Adorable Pups’ board), or find her at her blog, Some Puppy To Love.

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